19/10/2014 – Paul VI towards a “civilization of love”
Vatican City. On the morning of Sunday, October 19, a large group of Chapter Members went to St. Peter’s Square to take part in the Eucharist celebrated by Pope Francis. On this day marking the conclusion of the Synod of Bishops on the Family, he declared his predecessor, Paul VI, Blessed.
Paul VI was a great promoter of the family and of life. Throughout his pontificate, with great responsibility, he felt the urgent need to accompany social and cultural transformations regarding the family from a Gospel perspective. In the EncyclicalHumanae vitae (July 25, 1968) he stated: «The pastoral care of the family has become most timely, demanding and, at the same time, fruitful in beneficial and lasting results». The miracle attributed to his intercession and approved on May 7 last, is in perfect harmony with his Magisterium. «It is a sign that God protects even from the womb, from the moment at which life begins. For God, human life has a non negotiable value», Antonio Marrazzo, the Postulator of the cause explained.
Paul VI always nourished a most tender and all-embracing love for Christ, the Church and the human person. This was the distinguishing trait of his spiritual stature, what best characterised his constant and total tending towards the heights, towards the light, towards God. This man, apparently frail in body and shy in temperament, humble, but great in his heroic Christian virtue, journeyed through the life of the Church and the world in the twentieth century, committed to a constant task of making possible what, in 1975, he had defined as the “civilisation of love”.
During the Beatification ceremony, Pope Francis, in his homely, highlighted the extraordinary humility of Paul VI: «It is not our weak and inexpert hand that is at the helm of the barque of Peter, but the invisible but strong and loving hand of the Lord Jesus. Maybe the Lord has called me to this service, not because I have some aptitude, or that I may govern and save the Church from its difficulties, but that I may suffer something for the Church, and that it may be clear that He and no other guides and saves it».
A strong spiritual bond united Don Bosco to Pope Montini. Paul VI defined the great Piedmontese educator as an «authentic protagonist of the history of Italy and of the Church». From the immediate post-war period, the then Monsignor Montini, as Under-Secretary of State, began to collaborate with the SDB and FMA, who were assisting the “sciuscià”, the army of orphans and abandoned children that populated parts of the city. Thus the idea was born of establishing the «Don Bosco Boy’s Town» in Rome, at Forte Prenestino.
It was Paul VI who, on October 29, 1966, on the occasion of a pastoral visit to the Nuovo Salario Quarter in Rome, blessed the foundation stone of the Pedagogical Institute, which later became the Generalate of the Congregation of the FMA.
In the extraordinary audience of July 15, 1972, which he granted to the FMA for the centenary of the foundation of the Institute, he stated: «In you we see the uninterrupted continuation and the splendid flowering of an ideal of charity and zeal that blossomed on that far away August 5, 1872 through the work of St. John Bosco and St. Maria Mazzarello, when the first Daughters of Mary Help of Christians of Mornese, offered their young lives to the Lord and began their apostolic journey along the roads of the world. […] Will your Congregation be capable of responding to the appeal of the Church in the tempest that now enwraps it? What means will it use to ensure that the ancient vitality of the robust tree, planted by your Founders, may continue to flourish in all its fullness? My dear Daughters, there is only one response to these questions, which, as it explains the extraordinary fruitfulness of the past, also infallibly assures the vitality of your Institute in the future: holiness.
Oh, how we would love to see preserved among you, in all its primitive freshness, the distinctively Marian characteristic that, everywhere, constitutes the unmistakeably trait of the spirituality of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians. You have the privilege of belonging to a religious family that belongs totally to Mary and owes everything to Mary. Is your Institute not the living monument that Don Bosco wanted to erect to the Madonna, as a perennial sign of his gratitude for the benefits he received from her?»
The Beatification of this great Pope is a cause for joy and hope for the whole Institute, which recognises in him, a powerful intercessor in the mission to which it is called in this time of extraordinary renewal.